The Minnesota Vikings were dealt a significant blow Tuesday when their quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, suffered a season-ending knee injury during practice.
The non-contact injury included a torn ACL and dislocated knee, according to ESPN.com and multiple other reports.
The Vikings released a statement Tuesday night calling the injury a “complete [ACL] tear” with “other structural damage,” but added “there appears to be no nerve or arterial damage.”
The estimated recovery time could be anywhere between 9-12 months, according to Stephania Bell, ESPN’s Injury Analyst.
That leaves Minnesota without their star quarterback during a season in which they are trying to defend last year’s 11-5 record which helped them win the NFC North division for the first time since 2009.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they won’t repeat this season — not without Bridgewater.
Behind their young quarterback, the team has little help on the depth chart.
It’s widely presumed Shaun Hill will take over the starting job when Minnesota’s season begins in Tennessee against the Titans on Sep. 11, but Hill hasn’t started a game since he was with the St. Louis Rams in 2014.
He led that team to a 3-5 record in the eight games he started and is 16-18 in his 11-year career as a starter.
His best year as a starter may have been back in 2010, where he started a career-high 10 games replacing Matthew Stafford in Detroit. There he threw for 2,686 yards and 16 TDs, but the team went 3-7 with Hill at the helm.
This preseason, he’s been mediocre, with 192 passing yards and a 90.8 QBR, but no touchdowns or interceptions.
The only other quarterback on the Vikings depth chart is Joel Stave, who signed as an undrafted free agent this year after starting at Wisconsin for the past three seasons.
Stave also has been unimpressive in his first NFL preseason, throwing for just over 200 yards with an interception and a 63.8 QBR. To his credit, he was a successful quarterback in college and may just need some time to adjust to the pro game.
On a more positive note for Vikings fans, the team does have Adrian Peterson in the offense.
And as defenses around the league know, Adrian Peterson is Adrian Peterson.
About to begin his 10th year, he is coming off another solid season in which he rushed for nearly 1,500 yards, the seventh time in his career he rushed for at least 1,000.
In 2012, Peterson had arguably his best season, when the team relied on his talents to anchor the offense. He rushed for 2,097 yards and a dozen touchdown with Christian Ponder as the team’s quarterback.
Another positive for the Vikings is they have the 18th-toughest schedule in the NFL, with their 2016 opponents having a combined 125-131 record this year.
But, they’ll have to play a tough Green Bay Packers team twice, the defending NFC champion Panthers in Carolina, and host the NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals.
I would imagine the Vikings finish the year with an 8-8 record, maybe a 9-7 record if they manage to gel with their new leader under center.
It’s unfortunate for the Vikings, but the timing of Bridgewater’s injury was detrimental to a season once full of hope.
It’s scary to think the success of the team may rely on an 11-year veteran with little experience winning games, or a rookie with no experience playing games.
Maybe the Vikings sign a free agent quarterback, but even there the market is slim.
Minnesota has a chance at the Wild Card spot, but it’s doubtful they’ll be competitive to win the division.